We all know that exercise is important, especially for our children. After all, if we can create a habit of exercise in our children while they are young, chances are, it will stay with them for a lifetime. It is a valuable activity that will aid them in living a healthier and happier life that they can pass down to their own children. Here are six simple steps parents can take to teach their children this important practice.
Set an example
If you want your child to learn the importance of exercise, there is no greater teaching tool than your example. Make exercise a regular part of your life, and chances are, your children will follow your lead and also make exercise a priority.
Explain the "why" of exercise
Our children are smarter than we really give them credit for. If we tell them to exercise without explaining to them why it's important, we are not allowing them to make a better choice for themselves. Share with them all of the benefits of exercise, how the body works, and how what we eat and what we do, even as children, can affect our future health and happiness. When children understand the importance of exercise, they can start making choices for themselves rather than making choices that will appease their parents.
Limit television and video games
If active children are what you desire, then make it harder for them to be sedentary by limiting their screen time. Only allow TV and video games two days a week, or only for one hour a day. By limiting screen time, you are forcing your children to find something else to fill up their time. It is possible to use video games for exercise, but even then, be careful. It is important to give their eyes a break and allow them to get the essential vitamins they need from the fresh air and sunshine.
Make a schedule
Make an exercise schedule and stick to it. Don't allow anything or anyone to disrupt the schedule and it will become a habit. This will let your children know what is expected of them and there will be less complaints. Make a schedule that includes the days of the week, the time of day, and the exercise planned for that day. Sit down as a family and make the schedule together. You will be surprised at how excited and easy regular exercise can be for both you and your children when you plan for it. Both you and your children may even start looking forward to it.
Make exercise time family time
A great way to make sure everyone is getting the exercise they need is to exercise together as a family. Go on a walk together, roller blade together, fly kites together, or go on a bike ride together. There are many ways you can be active as a family. Not only will this create healthy bodies and strong minds in your family members, but it will also create strong family bonds and memories that will last forever.
Make exercise time fun time
When most people think of exercise, they think of the dreaded jumping jacks or sit ups. But there are other ways to get your children moving, and you can do it together. Turn up the radio and dance to your favorite music, go to the park and play on the jungle gym, play a game of Red-Rover or Freeze Tag, or go sledding. Chances are, your children will be more willing to exercise and find more joy in it when you are having fun together.
The best way to teach anything is always by example. Make exercise a priority for you and your children. Begin today by turning up the radio after dinner and dancing to your favorite music together. They can laugh as you show them your disco moves and you can giggle as you see their gangnam style stomping, and together, you will see just how much fun exercise can be.